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Men's Basketball: UNM looks for fresh start as new season begins against Northern New Mexico

New coach. New players. New sponsor. New season.

Everything surrounding the upcoming basketball season seems to still have that new car smell as first year Lobo basketball coach Paul Weir looks to pick up a win in the season opener against Northern New Mexico.

Saturday's game will mark the first game under a new era, being played in newly dubbed Dreamstyle Arena in front of a student section coined "the Howl."

But there is still some familiarity on the team. Most Lobo faithful will remember seniors Sam Logwood and Joe Furstinger. And the shooting of Dane Kuiper and effort of Anthony Mathis and Connor MacDougall are on the roster as well.

However, after a mass exodus of players following the 2016-17 season which say several Lobo players transfer or threaten to transfer out and the subsequent dismissal of former head coach Craig Neal, there is a new coach and plenty of new talent on the team as well.

New Mexico (0-0) hosted an exhibition game against BYU on Oct. 27 to help raise funds for hurricane relief, and although UNM lost 79-73, several of those incoming players got their first taste of playing inside the Pit in front of many fans that are likely to come check things out on Saturday.

Logwood led all scorers in the exhibition game with 23 points and looked comfortable assuming the role as a potential alpha on this year's squad.

But points were hard to come by and Logwood was the only UNM player to score in double figures. The Lobos shot a paltry 37.1 percent from the floor for the game and was just 5-of-28 (17 percent) from beyond the arc.

One thing that seemed to be present, which many thought was lacking in previous seasons, was hard-nosed defense, energy and effort.

Using full-court pressure at times and trapping, UNM forced 23 turnovers against BYU—though the team was only able to turn those into 17 points.

The team wasn't particularly great shooting free throws either, going 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe.

The fresh faces who saw the most playing time against BYU were Troy Simons, Antino Jackson and Chris McNeal—with all three logging over 20 minutes in the contest. Simons and Jackson both scored eight points, while McNeal chipped in seven.

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Simons had an off shooting night going 3-of-13 and missing all six of his three-point attempts, but showed a tremendous first step and ability to drive on defenders.

McNeal did a solid job handling the ball and could be an integral part of the teams success.

Northern New Mexico (2-7) has already seen a lot of action so far this season. The team split its first two games, but is currently on a six-game losing streak heading into the matchup with the Lobos.

The Eagles have averaged 76.6 points per contest and seems to be a team that picks up the scoring in the second half. Guards Jeffrey Long and Hasan Tucker have been the two biggest scorers for Northern New Mexico, scoring 15.0 and 13.3 points per game, respectively. 

Saturday's game will be the first meeting between the two programs. The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. at Dreamstyle Arena.

Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.

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